Have You Stopped Riding?
Have you stopped riding your horse out of an abundance of caution over the risk of landing in the emergency room of a hospital? (Assuming you have not stopped because your boarding barn is closed due to quarantine restrictions outside your control.) Or, have you stopped riding because you are overwhelmed with anxiety and have lost interest in riding (along with other activities) because you hate to do it alone? These reasons are valid and you should not beat yourself up (or let anyone else do it for you) over the decision. These are extraordinary times and everyone is finding their own way through them. Most of all remember: Stay safe–your friends, family, and pets all need you.
Assessing the Risk from Equestrian Activities
Most horse people are fearless, or at least put on a brave front. We are always taught to “cowboy up” in one sense or another and “get right back on the horse that threw you.” Some of us are better than others in dealing with the risk and working through the fear or anxiety. I have to admit, as I have gotten older I am less interested in preserving my pride and more concerned with preserving my body in one piece. Don’t let anyone intimidate you into doing something you are not comfortable with.
Safety in Numbers
I recently got a new horse, Lucida (see Leaving the Stall Door and Your Heart Open- the Rest of the Story), and was boarding her at my trainer’s facility in order to avail myself of expert training both for me and the mare! She was a bit more horse than I was used to, so I felt much more comfortable being around other riders at the barn and having the watchful eye of my trainer when needed. Unfortunately, the quarantine changed all that.
Home and Alone
I count myself lucky to have the option of bringing Lucida home. Many others are missing their beloved horses while they wait out the Stay at Home mandates. After a period of letting her adjust to her new home, however, I must face getting on her again. Why am I so anxious? I’ve noted she is a bit more excitable or distracted here which causes me to question my skills. My mind wanders to various disaster scenarios, landing me in a medical emergency, which is not where I want to be right now. I don’t want to risk becoming infected, but more so I don’t want to take up valuable medical resources in an emergency.
Do I put on “my big girl britches” and get on with it? Do I wait it out until I can get some professional help? I’ll let you know–stay tuned. In the meantime:
Here are a few tips for the rider working on their own:
- Make sure to alert someone, even a neighbor, to check on you. Don’t ride alone.
- Have your cell phone with you.
- Maintain a routine with your horse to instill a sense of security. Stick to the usual places to ride.
- There is no shame in getting off and doing ground work instead. There are lots of fun exercises to try.
- Now that there’s time, go ahead and read all those training books you bought, check out the online coaching, watch all the great videos of past competitions, and keep in touch with your equestrian friends (virtually) so you don’t feel so isolated from the horse world.